It is the use of tides or wind to deliver our daily energy needs that form 'Green Energy'. When 'Green', they are all thought to be replenishable and natural. It's interesting to note that in some instances we're actually travelling back in time to utilise some of the older energy skill sets e.g. Wind Power (Windmills etc.) Overall, this is the method of using modern techniques to provide eco-efficiency and planet friendly options.
The home can use a range of new ideas to help with energy usage - including Solar Thermal and Solar Water Heating Collectors. Equally there is electricity that is generated through roof-installed panels. A further factor revolves around stoves and boilers - which are known as Biomass Energy. There is also the ground heat from the Sun - now known as Ground Source Heat Pumps. Considering items such as Wind Power and Hydro Turbines, we are finally getting to very old forms of energy production.
Solar Energy Systems: Often called Solar Energy, this is fact based on two types of solar panels each using different ideas to get their results. Initially, there is the process of obtaining hot water from the Sun via Solar Water Heating Collectors. Additionally, there is the method of converting solar radiation into electricity known as Photovoltaic - or simply Solar Electrical panels. Solar Panels themselves need to be away from all light blocks, and should be on south facing roofs at angles of 30 degrees from the horizontal plane.
Within Solar Energy overall, Solar Water Power is most commonly used in the UK. With the capacity to deliver 50 percent plus of a household's hot water requirement annually, Solar Water heating systems are crucial to energy in the UK. Typically, to fit this type of equipment will cost between 500 and 1500 pounds for a DIY kit - all the way up to 2-5k for a full professional fitting.
Biomass Energy: This term encompasses all forms of natural products - such as plant and animal material. Considering its ability to produce energy in the form of heat and electricity, this type of energy is extremely flexible. Furthermore, within the European Markets, the UK is one of the central producers of Biomass fuels. One of the main factors of this style of energy is the result without the impact on C02. To that end, many wood crops come from sustainable sources (as one tree is felled, another is planted in its place; thus the new tree absorbs the CO2 produced during the heating process.)
'Energy Crops' trees such as Willow and Poplar play a major part in the process - under the banner of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC). Perennial grasses also produce a high yield of dry matter. Within this process also sits the lesser known Agricultural and Municipal Wastes. Agricultural Waste is commonly formed as a by-product of traditional agricultural work. Another biomass source is that of municipal waste - and this comes from recycled wood or food.
Systems Based On Geo-Thermal Energy: By naturally heating the Earth, the Sun has the potential to generate both warm water and electricity. Using the ground temperature of around 12 degrees in the UK - we can both heat and cool buildings. These heat pumps do need some power to operate; but for every one unit of energy they use, they generate four units of energy in return. This system can go even further - if energy efficient items such as wind turbines or solar electrical panels are used.
Wind Energy Programs: In use for milling grain or pumping water, wind energy has been with us for a very long time, although its modern uses are complex. However, in more recent times there's been the option to recover the energy for its own sake - and deliver this either to a home unit or to the local power grid. The UK is considered as one of the best sources of wind generation within Europe. Potentially, we can produce 10 percent of our annual energy needs through wind power, although at present within the UK we still only use 1 percent. Frankly, electricity can be realised from as little as 2p per kWh - as opposed to the current level of 2-10 p per kWh. Recovery of the cost involved is somewhere between 6-9 months.
Last of all there is Hydropower - an area of especial importance to the UK. Having said that, the art of using energy from moving water (just like wind power) is very traditional. Within the UK, this form of energy production is responsible for somewhere in the region of 2 percent of all electrical needs.
By using a turbine, a Hydropower system can transfer the kinetic energy of moving water into another form. Turbines use either a water drop (e.g. through a dam) or by a natural 'run of the river' - thereby having no water storage reservoir. 'Micro-Hydro' however utilises old outdated sluices and dams. Although a lesser known form of electricity output, this process could supply 200mW of UK demand. The expected cost of installing a system such as this would be between 200 pounds and 3k per kW of output.
It can be seen that the route to 'Green Energy' is growing considerably, especially in light of the need for increasing energy outputs throughout the Western World. The UK domestic market appears to be one of the core beneficiaries of this technology.
It is the drive for installations in the domestic sector that looks to favour jobs such as plumbers and electricians. With EEC and UK recognition of renewable energy getting ever-higher on the political agenda, the grants and financial aid for introduction of these systems can only increase. It is by gaining the right certificates that will provide opportunities and job security for the long term. Look for combined electrical and plumbing training, with a key emphasis on practical green systems and installation.